Sublimation is such a popular form of printing thanks to its versatile and diverse application. The fact that you sublimate on so many kinds of surfaces makes sublimation printing a staple and one of the most used printing styles. Wood sublimation is one of the most popular forms of sublimation printing.
Wood items with incredible prints are a top-rated product among people. A lot of home decor items that people love to have at their homes are based on wood. Considering this, wood sublimation as a part of your business or even personal use is a great option.
Wood sublimation is also not restricted to just casual prints being printed on wood for making decoration pieces. Still, it is also utilized in other professional works and promotions and can also be a great gift. So to make this great way of sublimation easy to understand, after extensive research, I have posted this article with all the essential information you need to start wood sublimation.
Details & Process Of Wood Sublimation:
On a general outlook, the basic process of sublimation on wood is the same as on any form of apparel. However, there are a few things that differ based on a few factors.
The first and foremost thing to be aware of is that numerous types of wood exist, and the outcomes might vary accordingly. You can sublimate on plain wood, chipboard, Medium-density fibreboard or commonly known as MDF, Plywood, and birchwood. Similarly, another factor influences the results, whether the surface of the wood is direct or has laminating sheets, white paint coat, or polyacrylic surface coating.
Plain Wood surfaces can be sublimated directly. However, there are few drawbacks to that. The transfer of proper ink can be hindered on bare wood. Moreover, the wood sap or wood color can also mix with the ink, which gives a bad image of the print. The print may also not be permanent, and the ink may come if rubbed with water paper or cloth.
The plain wood may not end up giving you a proper transfer of ink and hence an undesirable final print. However, if you choose this method, birchwood or MDF is a better option as they have less risk of the drawbacks mentioned above.
The use of Laminating sheets is the method that a lot of people and I recommend and use. With the laminating sheets coating the surface, the transfer of ink is more proper and precise. The sublimation ink properly submerges with the sheet, and the image appears clean and clear. The sheet also lowers the mixing of wood color and sap with the ink colors. So it is well recommended that you coat the wood with laminating sheets before sublimating the print.
Paint Coating is another way to prevent ink mixing with wood sap and make sure that the ink is transferred correctly. The use of white paint is suggested as it is the best surface for sublimation ink to show true vibrant colors. Coating the surface twice properly helps you cover the direct surface making it excellent for sublimation. This method is ideal if you are looking to sublimate the plain wood surface as it lowers the drawbacks of the plain surface.
You can also use the laminating sheets on the paint-coated surface. This will give the ink an even more clean surface to transfer onto, making the final image appear even more sharp and bright.
Polycrylic coating can also be used as a coating to prevent the drawbacks mentioned above. However, my research did not show the most promising result for this method. There is a chance that the polycrylic coating may melt the paper or the coating, and it can become messy and sticky.
Procedure of Wood Sublimation:
The first step of the procedure is to cut the wood safely. Remember to choose a wood material that is easy to cut, smooth, and not too thick. Cut it according to whatever shape and size you desire. MDF is easy to cut. However, the chipboards are a bit hard to cut into particular shapes. Once you have cut out the wood, you can use sandpaper to sand off the rough edges.
The next step is a little factor-dependent. If you are working on a direct wood surface, then move on to the next step. However, if you have decided to go for laminating sheets and paint or polycrylic coating, then there are a few steps to do before moving forward.
For the laminating sheets, you need to cut the laminating sheets according to your wood shape. Keep in mind to leave a little bit of the sheets on the edges as the sheet can shrink due to heat. Press the laminating sheet on the wood with the heat press set to about 365 degrees for 90 seconds. Use a paper or silicone sheet on both sides of the wood and keep the shiny side of the laminating sheet upward.
For the coating of white paint, coat the wood with two paint layers with a difference of around 20 minutes between each coating. Once the coating is done, you can move on to the laminating sheet process mentioned above—laminate on the coated side. The same procedure is for polycrylic coating.
Once you are through with all the initial coating of the wood, you move on to the sublimation of the print. With the design software, you adjust the print size according to the wood size and shape. Then you need to print the image on the special sublimation paper. Tape the paper with the image side facing the wood and remove the rest of the paper from the sides if you want to.
Again put a silicone sheet or other protective paper before placing the wood piece with the taped on the image. Put another protective sheet above the wood piece and press them with a heat press machine for 90 seconds at 365-375 degrees. After pressing, remove the tape and the paper, and you will have your excellent sublimated product.
Tips For Wood Sublimation:
● Choose your wood material carefully. Check the thickness, its compatibility with sublimation is it easy to cut, and what kind of texture it has.
● Keep in mind that even with all the coating, the wood color can mix up with the colors of the prints. So choose your color combination accordingly.
● Don’t forget to be careful with the sublimated wood piece when you get it out of the heat press because it will be hot.
● Leave a bit extra laminating sheet at the edges when cutting it according to wood size. The laminating sheet can shrink due to the heat of the press and cause undesirable white borders.
Equipment Required For Wood Sublimation:
1. Sublimation Printer:
The most essential and primary tool you need for sublimation is a good epson sublimation printer. Also, the printer should be good enough to adjust the colors of print according to the wood color to prevent excessively noticeable mixing of colors.
2. Sublimation Ink:
Another basic need. Sublimation ink is necessary for producing prints that can be sublimated on the surface. Do check the compatibility of the ink with the printer and whether or not it can adjust according to the wood color texture.
3. Sublimation Paper:
For sublimation, you need to have a particular type of paper called sublimation paper for sublimation.
4. Wooden Blank or Surfaces:
You need a wood blank or surface for sublimation printing. Or You can use plywood, MDF, plain wood, or birchwood. You can either cut them according to your shape and desire or buy ready-made wood blanks.
5. Heat Press Machine:
For the pressing of the print on the surface, you need a heat press machine. For apparel, people do sometimes use irons as substitutes. However, you need a heat press machine for wood sublimation as the wood is an entirely different material compared to fabric.
6. Laminating Sheet and Paint:
Laminating sheets are another requirement for better wood sublimation, while on the other hand, white paint is needed for coating the surface. You may look out here if you want to buy.
7. Crafting Knife
8. Polycrylic (If looking to use it for coating)
9. Heat Resistant Tape
10. Heat Resistant Gloves
11. Cutting Mat
12. Protective Paper or Sheets
Wood sublimation is a form of art, considering the incredible wood decoration items you can make. The basic process is not so hard, and you can get mesmerizing wood-based home decor products. The fact that they are so popular among people is something you can use as a business prospect. Moreover, its use is not limited to just decoration pieces, but they have a diverse range in different places. Wood sublimation is an overall fantastic way of performing sublimation.
Hi, I am Charles, 25 years of age & an enthusiast blogger, also called the printer guy in my family. I bring you the top & unbiased reviews of sublimation printers.